Can someone with autism also have intellectual disabilities (mental retardation)?
Yes, a person with autism can also have intellectual disabilities, also called mental retardation. Intellectual disability is determined by two main factors: an IQ score under 70, and lack of adequate adaptive behavior (the ability to take care of oneself). If a person with autism also displays these limitations, they are said to have both autism and intellectual disability.
It is not uncommon for someone with autism to also have intellectual disability, though the numbers aren’t as high have been claimed. Some sources state that 75% of children with autism also have ID, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, those numbers are incorrect. The CDC reports that of the children who are part of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, only 48% of them had an IQ below 70. Additionally, a large proportion of those autistic children who do have some intellectual difficulty are only mildly affected. It is relatively uncommon for an autistic child to also have severe intellectual deficiency (around 7%).
It’s important to note, however, that the standard IQ tests may not be the ideal way of testing for ID in children with autism since it assumes some exposure to an academic environment and doesn’t assess life skills.
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